Baltimore riots not justified even if anger warranted

Bryan Eberly and Bryan Eberly

Violence is rarely justified.

In the event that a person is being harmed, violence is justified in the form of defense, depending on the degree of the initial harm.

Any other instance? I’d say no. Violence is not the answer. So, I’d like to spend this column taking an objectivist look at the events in Baltimore and rioting in general.

Is rioting justified? Not at all. Never. A riot is a collection of angry people who have lost control of their intellect and have begun to resort to aggression and wanton destruction. A riot is not a defensive act.

Even the Stonewall Riots, which I mentioned a few columns ago, were not justified. Were the patrons of the Stonewall Inn well within their rights to fight the police? Yes. The police were assaulting them.

But were those patrons then within their rights to start smashing out windows, setting fires to trashcans and flipping over cars? No.

The moment an act of violence crosses over defense to offense is the moment it loses justification.

My immediate reaction to seeing the riots taking place in Baltimore is just that. How dare they? How dare that admittedly small group of people let their anger grow to the point where they lose their humanity and put everyone at risk of danger? Who are they to destroy a business, put children in harm’s way or cause general combative conditions? They are wrong.

However, all that being said, here’s the caveat to speaking out against rioting. It’s easy to forget why people are rioting. Especially in this day and age of constant media coverage and overhyped yellow journalism.

The majority of what was being presented the first night of rioting was just that. The rioting. It was quickly forgotten in the chaos of fire, broken glass and screaming that these rioters were part of a peaceful protest a few hours before.

And that’s where they became angry. Why?

Martin Luther King, Jr., whom I have quoted many times over the last year, is quoted as saying “a riot is the language of the unheard.” That could apply here.

Imagine this scenario: you are at a protest to counter the idea that a militarized police force [some may call it a standing army] are patrolling the streets and seem to be given a carte blanche to commit summary execution without any sort of due process. Add to that the seeming nature that this standing army is especially targeting young black men.

And then who shows up to your protest and starts strong-arming people and portraying an aggressive atmosphere? The cops, of course, donned in riot gear and armor, carrying big guns.

That’s enough to make anyone’s adrenaline-fueled flight-or-fight response trigger. And unfortunately, some chose to fight instead of flee.

Again, through this explanation, I am not trying to justify those who stayed to fight. I am merely giving perspective and prodding a certain response and reaction when rioting is present.

Instead of saying “they shouldn’t riot!”, one should ask “why are they rioting?” And then figure out who is not being heard.

The time is now to keep a pot from boiling over. To avoid more rioting, it’s high time to take the pot off the burner and figure out a solution to the madness of a militarized police force and figure out why so many have gotten away with murder.

If they have at all, that is.

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